Telluride. There’s something magical about this place. My ex-husband and I first came here years ago to ski and snow-mobile. Eventually we brought our kids, then friends and their kids. At the advice of our therapist, we even came here to try to restore our broken marriage. Telluride didn’t fix our marriage, but I never held a grudge.
In fact, Telluride has beckoned me back for the summers. Over the past several years my four boys, my boyfriend and I have loaded my Suburban and conquered the 24-hour drive through the Midwest, the plains and into these mountains where we discover more of the land… and ourselves.
After a couple days of mountain biking and hiking, the boys wanted a day of rest to play billiards and ping pong, swim in the indoor/outdoor pool or take small walks around town. But the hiking bug wouldn’t leave me. When I announced that I wanted to hike one of my favorite ski-runs, my kids balked but my boyfriend Tim, who has heard me describe this run several times, was much obliged.
After giving the boys instructions for the day, Tim and I laced our hiking boots, filled our water backpacks, grabbed some Clif bars and headed toward the gondola that would take us mid-mountain where we would meet the See Forever trailhead.
As we climbed, and I mean c l i m b e d, I often stopped to take in the majestic 13-14,000 foot peaks around me and snap photos at all angles. Since I am fairly out of shape and couldn’t speak much, Tim talked about his past few days of journaling and praying. He told me about his conversations with God, and how he listened to what God was saying about beauty and creativity. I queried him regarding his definition of beauty and we discussed (yes, I could eek out a few sentences here and there) the awesomeness that beauty provokes. I pushed further for a definition of awesomeness.
Before I could move on in the conversation I wanted his definitions for such obscure notions. I had my definitions, but to track with him, I needed to know his. He jokingly chastised me for using such left-brain thinking, which turned the trajectory of our talking toward the importance of right brain and left brain thinking, and specifically how it matters in the way we approach God. Even in my “hippie free-free” (as Tim likes to call me), spontaneous, touchy-feely ways, I lean more toward left-brain thinking. I prefer systems and categories in order to function well, but at the same time I like the freedom to embrace interruptions for what’s truly important (that would be the ENFP part of me, for all you Myers-Briggs fans).
It was about this time, as I simultaneously focused on putting one foot in front of the other (cue Santa Claus is Coming to Town music) that I thought: ‘If I died right now, I would die a happy, contented woman.’ There on See Forever trail, I was with the man I love being stretched physically, spiritually and intellectually. It is in these moments when I feel most alive. When life feels complete.
We continued to 12,000 feet and when we reached the plateau where the top of a lonely summertime ski lift hit the ridge, the awesomeness that comes from beauty stunned me into silence. Then it hit me: beauty is so elusive because it both enfolds me and sets me free. I feel it envelope me as it penetrates my senses, but it also frees me from definitions, limitations or categorical boxes. It is true wonder.
As we descended the mountain, I was free to receive some of the things Tim continued to share with me about my children, his role in their lives and a particular spiritual dream he had following a rather heated fight we had about a month ago. In our day-to-day lives, I’m not always open to hearing such things. The irony is that I feel too vulnerable most times, but where else was I more vulnerable than on a mountain trail in need of his companionship? That’s the mystical part of this place, or really any place that makes me feel alive. It allows me to welcome the mystical, the spiritual lessons, that I otherwise would shut out or ignore.
Later that evening, after we checked in with the boys and cleaned up, Tim surprised me with reservations at a restaurant I had only dreamed of due to its pricey menu. Allred’s sits mid-mountain, overlooking Telluride. When we arrived, the hostess asked us if we wanted a romantic table in the corner. Um, yes please. As the aspen trees shimmied through the windows on both sides of us, we savored our food mostly in silence because there in that restaurant, we were awed by the beauty that both held us and set us free. And again I thought, ‘If I died right now, I would die a happy, contented woman.’